There are three grounds for divorce in Louisiana:
1) Living Separate and Apart
The requisite time periods necessary for living separate and apart before obtaining a judgment of divorce are as follows: 180 days in cases where there are no minor children of the marriage; and 365 days where there are minor children of the marriage. Special rules may apply when the parties have confected a covenant marriage or when there has been a finding of physical or sexual abuse. The action can be defeated if the parties reconcile by resuming to live together with a mutual intent to resume the marriage. Certain procedural formalities are required.
a. Living separate and apart before filing of petition
If the parties have already lived separate and apart for the requisite time period, continuously and without reconciliation, either spouse may le for the divorce.
b. Living separate and apart after fling of petition
Once a Petition for Divorce has been filed and the parties remain separate and apart, either spouse may ask the court to finalize a divorce after the requisite 180 or 365 days have passed following either service of the petition, written waiver of said service, or physical separation (whichever is later).
c. Covenant marriage
A couple may contract a covenant marriage after they obtain counseling, declare such an intent on their marriage license and execute an intent to contract a covenant marriage. A couple must seek counseling and may obtain a judgment of divorce only upon proof of the following:
Adultery by the other spouse;
Commission of a felony by the other spouse;
Abandonment of the other spouse for a period of a year;
Physical or sexual abuse;
Living separate and apart for two years; or
Living separate and apart for one year after the date of the judgment of separation from room and board.
Adultery on the part of the other spouse is grounds for an immediate divorce, there is no required waiting period. The burden of proof is on the party alleging the adultery and is very strict. Corroborative testimony is required and it must be proven that the other spouse engaged in sexual relations with another person.
3) Conviction of a Felony
If the other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor, a petition for divorce can be filed. The facts of conviction and sentencing are the only proof requirements; appeals and actual serving of the sentence is immaterial.
There are two types of spousal support in Louisiana: interim spousal support and final periodic spousal support. Interim spousal support may be awarded to a spouse who does not have sufficient income for his/her maintenance pending the divorce. It is designed to maintain the status quo in both spouses’ living conditions, to the extent that this can be accomplished, and it may last up to six months after the date of the divorce.
Final spousal support may be awarded to an ex- spouse who has been found to be free from fault in the breakup of the marriage. It can be awarded after a determination that the spouse requesting the support has a need and the other spouse has the means to provide for that need.
Another ancillary matter which may be addressed either in the divorce proceeding or thereafter is the use and occupancy of the family home, use of car(s) or the use of other community assets.
Unless the parties before or during the marriage entered into a matrimonial agreement excluding or modifying the legal regime or community property, generally speaking, everything acquired by the spouses while married and residing in Louisiana is owned equally by them. Property owned before marriage, individual gifts during marriage and inherited property are considered separate property and generally not subject to division when the community regime terminates.
Community property is that which is acquired during the marriage through the effort, skill or industry of either spouse, such as wages and employee bene t plans, property donated to the spouses jointly and other property not classified as separate. If the parties cannot agree on what assets and liabilities are to be partitioned to each party, or what values are to be assigned, the court will determine values and then divide all of the assets and liabilities so each spouse received one-half of the net value of the joint estate.
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